The Journal, Monday, 9/28: How I Write
Rolled out a little after 3, having stepped outside to watch some of the lunar eclipse last night.
More than likely I won’t get a lot of writing done today, at least on the novel. I do have to write the short story of the week. It posts tonight at 6 p.m. But I also have to take my pickup to Sierra Vista again to finish the repair I started last week. Life happens.
I don’t really want to pry my head out of my novel right now, so I think I’ll publish an excerpt from the novel as the short story. It’ll work well. You’ll see. (grin) Well, if you read it.
I also want to increase the visibility of my books to brick and mortar stores, so I’ll be opening a publisher website over the next several days to do that. This is something I picked up on while reading over some of the comments on a recent DWS post. Invaluable stuff.
Okay, a bit on how I write. This was prompted by a subscriber who mentioned that he enjoys the posts but that it simply isn’t the way he writes.
I want to say up front, that is absolutely fine. As DWS says, every writer is different. Every writer’s process is different. But I can’t write about other writers’ processes in this blog. So do your own thing, no biggie.
What I’ve learned about writing since early 2014 is nothing short of incredible. I can’t talk with other writers about writing and NOT mention this stuff. It has proven invaluable (and I’m not exaggerating) to me. Dean suggests keeping it secret because so few will “get it,” but I just can’t do that. So here goes.
For my part (as I’ve said before), I write this Journal for three reasons: as a personal diary for myself, to share what I know, and to let others know what is possible. By “what is possible” I mean following Heinlein’s Rules and writing off into the dark can make writing a great deal of fun while vastly increasing your productivity and the quality of your stories.
Do I wish that for you? Yes. Absolutely. Do I fret over whether you’re even willing to try it? No. Not because I don’t care, but because I have my own stuff to worry about, just as you do.
If you’ll forgive a religious allusion here, I’m kind of Saul turned Paul in this deal. Remember, I used to buy into all the myths. Hell, I used to teach them. Vehemently.
I used to believe (now get this) that I could produce an original work in my own unique voice by editing and rewriting and polishing until what I had written looked like everything else in the publisher’s slush pile. I still wonder, how in the world did I NOT see the paradox in that?
I read somewhere that insanity is defined as doing something exactly the same way over and over and over again while hoping for a different result. You know, for what it’s worth.
So I don’t do that. I allow my own unique voice to shine through, which means I resign my control-freak role as General Manager of the Universe and trust my subconscious to tell the story. And then I call myself a writer so I actually am trying to develop a work ethic as a writer.
If I were a mechanic, I would spend time every day working on cars. If I were a doctor, I would spend time every day practicing medicine. If I were a plumber, I would spend time every day fixing plumbing problems. I’m a writer. Why shouldn’t I spend some hours every day practicing my craft? You know, writing?
The truth is this: Writing “fast” doesn’t mean lower quality. It just means spending more time in the chair putting new publishable words on the page. It means writing at a blazing speed of about 17 words per minute, and it means getting it right the first time.
For some, it’s too scary to even try, though they won’t say that. Instead they’ll say something like “Well, I have a life,” meaning they don’t have time to do their job. How long would you get away with that if you were a cop or a plumber or a carpenter? “Sorry, Boss, I can’t put in the time today. I have a life.” And there are any number of other excuses. And that’s fine.
As an aside, I mentioned Heinlein’s Rules to a woman in Prescott a while ago. You know how long it takes to read them. She wouldn’t even look. “No need,” she said. “I don’t write science fiction.”
I just said “Okay.” I mean, what can I say in the face of that kind of intentional ignorance?
This is the way I write. This is my process, but I didn’t come up with it. It’s how Bradbury wrote. It’s how pretty much all of the pulp writers wrote. It’s how DWS and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and JA Konrath and a bunch of others write. I want to be a long-term professional fiction writer who writes across all genres, so I follow the lead of long-term professional fiction writers who write across all genres. Shrug.
As I wrote earlier, I DO wish for others the same freedom, joy, productivity and increased quality that I’ve found in my own writing. But how you write is up to you. I don’t dwell on it. As Ben Johnson said in a movie awhile back, “Not my department.” (grin)
Wrote a little over 1200 words before heading for SV. That was on the short story of the week, “There’s No Fool.” But the short story is excerpted exactly from the novel, so I’m not counting the short story words separately. (grin)
Then when I got back I created a cover and published the story to my website and D2D. Then I wrote a bit more in one quick session, then posted this and called it a day. I’ll add the story to my Short Fiction page after I post this.
Fiction Words: 1900 (weird)
Writing of “The Coming of Simon Stark” (SF novel)
Day 1…… 3800 words. Total words to date….. 3800 words
Day 2…… 1516 words. Total words to date….. 5316 words
Day 3…… 2942 words. Total words to date….. 8258 words
Day 4…… 4261 words. Total words to date….. 12519 words
Day 5…… 3039 words. Total words to date….. 15558 words
Day 6…… 2600 words. Total words to date….. 18158 words
Day 7…… 4634 words. Total words to date….. 22792 words
Day 8…… 3149 words. Total words to date….. 25941 words
Day 9…… 3641 words. Total words to date….. 29582 words
Day 10… 1900 words. Total words to date….. 31482 words
Total fiction words for the month………… 60121
Total fiction words for the year…………… 525162